Cornwall Council says it remains committed to a £300m strategic partnership proposal with either BT or CSC that it insists will help it protect frontline services and reduce costs by at least £5m a year.
It follows a council debate earlier this week at which the partnership plans were criticised by elected councillors.
Now, the council has said it will continue to work with its health partners - Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and Peninsula Community Health - to issue an invitation to tender to the two bidders.
"The reality is that this proposal, which brings together the best of the private and public sector in an innovative partnership, is vital to the future delivery of Cornwall Council services," said Steve Double, the council's portfolio holder for environment, waste management and shared services.
"Under this proposal we will be joining with a private sector company to form a partnership which will then deliver services, although the responsibility for setting policy and strategy will remain with the council.
"The facts are that entering into this partnership will help us to protect frontline services, create 500 new jobs and reduce costs by at least £5m a year. This is surely in the best interests of the people of Cornwall."
Following the issuing of the invitation to tender to BT and CSC and their responses, a final decision will be made at a Cabinet meeting in November, the council said.
According to a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union issued late last year, Cornwall - best known for its stuffed pasties and seaside ice creams - is seeking an "innovative and incremental strategic partnership" with a company or consortium.
One strand of work is expected to focus on projects to create shared support services for the council and health partners, while the other will focus on establishing a trading vehicle.
"The strategic partner will provide transformational services for a defined range of projects and establish a trading vehicle," said the OJEU notice. "Subsequent phases will include the delivery of additional in-scope projects, subject to business case approval."
Cornwall said it anticipated signing a contract for a minimum of 10 years, with an option to extend for a further five years. "Over this period we hope to establish a competitive trading vehicle that wins contracts to deliver support services for other organisations," the notice added.
The projects covered by the contract are for a common ICT infrastructure; joined-up procurement and commissioning support; document management; customer access, to include websites and contact centres; to review and support the implementation of innovative and "lean" processes; an integrated internal helpdesk; and integrated IT solutions.
This article was originally published at Government Computing.
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